tv Charlie Rose PBS February 18, 2011 11:30pm-12:30am EST
>> rose: welcome to our program, tonight chris matthews on bill clinton. >> the great thing about him is when he gives a speech now, it's not joe gir ageio or the stories of the old days. he never talks about the past it is very interesting. bill clinton talks about always what is happening in the world, he keeps himself current. >> rose: we continue this evening with chris anderson, the curator of the tet conference. >> i kind of fell in love with it internally and as a media person t felt like there was a certain there, when you see passion like that it's a hint that there is potential. and so for the last, you know, i put it into a nonprofit organization. instead of for profit.
and the journey over the last 13 years has been trying to figure out how to let that passion and inspiration and learning, i suppose, get out into the world. >> rose: we conclude this evening with james kaplan who has a new biography of frank sinatra. >> perhaps most important of all to him was the lyric. he said in later years that he read the lyric to a song before he ever sang a note of the song. he read it like a poem. he learned to live inside that lyric. and so as a result, he inhabited the lyric to the songs as really very few other singers do or did. >> rose: crist mathews, chris anderson, james kaplan when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose was provided by the following.
chris matthews is here, the host of msnbc hardball with chris matthews. he also has his own weekly news program on nbc called the chris matthews show. his latest project is a documentary about former president bill clinton. it is called president of the world, the bill clinton phenomenon. here is a look at the documentary. >> bill clinton's post presidency is unlike any before. >> i had always said that bill clinton would run for president for the rest of his life. not literally but figurively. and i think i underestimated him. i think he has been running for president of the world for the rest of his life. >> following the former president is a little like going on a concert tour. >> oh pie god. >> different cities, different country, exuberant crowds. always the same feeling. that wherever bill clinton
arrives it is an event. a happening, to be experienced and remembered. >> he is i superstar, isn't he. >> you can do it here, i can figure out how to put it everywhere and get it funded for you. i will really help you. >> did you ever have a pause where i thought i don't know what i'm going to do next. and then this began to develop this almost global role you play now? >> it is global. >> well, in the middle of my second term as president i began to think about what i would do. and in general, i thought the two things. i thought number one i want to keep being very active in the things i cared about as president, where i can still have an influence. and the second thing i wanted to do was to try to explain the world we're living in to my fellow americans and the people around the world. >> so everything is sort of grown out of that. >> this special on bill clinton airs on msnbc on monday february 21st at 10 p.m.
i'm pleased to have chris matthews back at this table, welcome. >> right before charlie rose. we squeeze it in there, an hour of greatness. >> rose: very good. so how did this come about? >> i had the idea, i guess if you want to go-- pie son worked for the global initiative about four years ago. he came out of brown. i guess he was irspine-- inspired to go in the peace corps, but he had a girlfriend, he is married now. he wanted to go several months, not two years. he found the clinton global initiative and went to rwanda. i was sop impressed by what i learned of the global initiative that we went over there and visited. they get things done. it's not like aid. >> rose: the global initiative. >> yeah. they make sure, they say look, they go to a country like rwanda. they say make sure nun of these cocktails, these hiv aids cocktails get back to the european secondary market, the black market. we want to guarantee the donors that it gets to the people who need them, the victims. then they have somebody in the country to make sure that gets done, a quarter master, my son.
and i said this thing really works. this isn't the old thing where you get a certain percentage, the minister gets it for the money he sold off to europe or the black market it is the kind of stuff like that that impressed me in the beginning. that is the first thing. >> rose: but how did this happen? so you were impressed by the clinton global initiative and began to ask questions. >> i said this is ding --. >> rose: . >> nobody is covering this story. sure, we had monday ca, the impeachment, we covered the good, bad and ugly of his administration and covered it incede blooep. i covered it as much as anybody, i got to till. and i said wait a minute this guy has been out of office, 8, 9, 10 years now. and nobody has covered that. it's all been good. it's been basically international more so than here. and i get the feeling maybe he's one of those figures like winston churchill who is bigger overseas, and bigger around the world than we even appreciate. we don't get it remember even nixon was popular in france. and are miss that story. so i started to look around. the producers dug up the tape of where he is traveling. we interviewed people. i traveled with him to ireland and watched the global initiative in new
york with like hundreds much c.e.o.s, 160 c.e.o.s of big corporations and worldwide leaders to treat him better than they themselves feel they should be treated. going around the world and arriving in a country and being bigger than the current host country head of state. and he's bigger than that person when he arrives. and that has never been like that before. >> rose: and he instantly cooperated. said i will do t it's great. >> well, you know this business. first of all, i had to make up for being tough on him. so i had to call up his chief of staff, and i said why don't we go to sylvias up in harlem where they work. he is tired of going up there to dinner. he is like how about michaels in midtown. we met and had lunch, an hour and quarter lunch, he was grilling me. i was like look, i want to focus-- focus on the global initiative, the you be stands of-- substance of what he is doing. those an investigative piece, but the substance of what he has done for ten years and nobody has covered this and it is a heck of a story. i want to travel with you and get insighted. i don't want to get committed, spend a couple hundred thousand bucks and
say i am not going to get in the door. i want time with him, overseas. i get back, he said yes, i a assume he said yes because the chief of staff said yes. >> rose: no conditions. >> no conditions, absolutely none. i got to see what i got to see. >> rose: you see anything critical in this hour. >> i make sure i touch all the bases. i remind you as if you need reminding of mark rich, the impeachment problem, all the bases. i do at one point-- . >> rose: you touch base on the same thing-- the criticism. >> i cover the past but i focus on the new. and if i could find anything new that was bad i would have covered it. it's good. what i have been able to find is good. the clinton global initiative is really, really good. >> rose: so is this in some way you taking a second look at this guy. >> no, it is a new chapter in his life. i think fitzgerald is wrong. i think there are second acts in american life. this second act is very much different than the first ago. let's face, that guy has been wrong for a long time, fitzgerald has been wrong for about a hundred years now. i think he was talking about if you drink yourself to death in 30 years old are you not going have a good
second half. >> rose: here you spent the time with this guy. >> right. traveling. >> rose: president of the world. >> are you on the plane with the guy and it is almost like daddy war bucks, flying around the world. he's got his big satchel of books, and he starts pulling out all the books he's reading. he's reading yates, all this other stuff. i'm reading this, that, what do you think of it this, what do you think of this poetry. i find out he spends an hour a day studying economics it is "the wall street journal" economics, business economics because the great thing about him is when he gives a speech now it is not joe-- yesterday's stories about the old days. he never talks about the past. it is very interesting. bill clinton talks always about what is happening right now in the economy, in the world, what people care about. he keeps himself current. >> rose: so what new did you learn? >> what new did you learn. >> rose: about bill clinton. >> that he won't quit. >> rose: that's new? >> well, it's current. >> rose: come on. hello? >> give me a break. i can only the guy does not want to-- . >> rose: he doesn't quit is new.
>> charlie, you are ahead of me all the time. i think it is an amazing story, how many people do you know, you probably know 10,000 people firsthand. i bet you bill clinton knows 100,000 people firsthand and all around the world. i keep coming across this, he knows all these people. he comes up to new a bar in the shell burn in dublin, it's midnight. he spent the wol day, the morning with the protestants in northern ireland talking to the business guys, giving business advice. then he spends the afternoon opening up his institute at city college of dub lick-- dublin, his own institute. in the evening he put its on the black tie and spends what you and i would consider the end of the evening, black tie dinner for the american irish and american ireland fund. then he goes, puts on his jeans, this very hip new zipper sweater, his staff all wear the same costume which is the amazing. by the end,the shem burn bar in dublin, beautiful old bar. sets up court down there, surrounded by a phalanx of people and everybody knows in the british aisles to meet him like a dance card. they each get their card-- turn and the guy won't quit. you think is normal.
i think it is a phenomenon. the guy has been president now ten years ago and still being president around the world. you know those stories you could get elected president of ireland tomorrow. he could. >> rose: he could get elected president of the united states. >> oh, yeah, not now, the job is not open now, it would be totally conceptual. he is politically a genius and his ability to work with people. >> rose: tony blair said that, the most captivating pollingtition that he has ever met. >> and he talks-- . >> rose: he said that to you. >> and in the doc he talks about going to black pool remember brighton where they had their conference and how he just took over the place. and that's what he does. and kevin spacey story that is in the doc about him showing up somewhere in central africa and the word gets out he is going to the big market and he shows up and there are like 10,000 people there yelling peacemaker peacemaker. >> rose: so what is his genius? >> remember he used to talk about that thing we have when we were a kid the big plastic thing filled with air but with the sand in the bottom that you would punch that would come back up
again, that's him. and he said that before. i get down. he get knocked out of the governorship, first term. blown away. he is finished down there, in his 30s. comes back and wins five terms. he comes out on national television, 1988, gave the terrible speech that went on for like an hour in georgia. >> rose: at the convention in atlanta. >> laughed at, johnny carson killed him. a week later on johnny carson playing the sacks, he won us back. he comes back and wins the presidency in '92 when everybody said, all screwed up, too elitist between '92 and '93 hillary and ego, too far, didn't know how to handle health care, next thing blown out of office. gives a speech saying i'm still relevant. he he comes back, beat bob dole by 9 or 8 points. >> rose: and leads after-- he leads 60 some percent in popularity when he leaves even with the problem, impeach. he left with a very high number so he is able to keep coming back. i think he had to come back after mark rich, i think part of this motivation for this incredible commitment
to goodwill and good efforts around the world, good work, i think a lot of it is to leave on a very positive way. who wouldn't want to do that. that is part of the thing that does make pretty easy sense, i think. >> rose: and his ambition is? >> keep it going. don't turn out the lights. don't go to sleep. keep it going. remember, and this isn't a moral or a moral judge. but remember the day that bush gave the inaugural address, down at the capital, split screen. bill clinton giving a speech out at andrews. he's not going, remember. we show that in the clips too. he said i'm still president, you know, i'm still here. >> rose: he also said to you i think that no one, other people might have-- no one loved the job more than i did. >> i think it is a great honest line. you hear about the burden, the loaniness, wasn't lonely for him. i mean his whole thing with hillly as the secretary of state, and by the way, the serious part of this, which we don't really get into, but we all have to look and see if it holds is the
coalition between the clintons and president obama. that is to me the key political fact in the country, that coalition. if that weren't there, hillary clinton f she were still senator of this state up in new york would be the lightning rod for every middle east problem, every economic problem. she would be the way ted kennedy was back with jimmy carter. the party would be split. and the fact that it is not split i think is key to its success, and its possibility of winning a significant re-election. if they weren't united as they are, i don't think they would be winning next time. >> rose: do you think if she was in the senate now. >> the things that have happened she might be positions herself to challenge. >> not to challenge but even if she didn't, she would be positioned to inevitably play the role of critic because it would just come to her it would be the automatic role for somebody like that. and as it is, because she's part of the team and done this perfect job so far, bill clinton's part of the team, it's really that, i don't know if i said this before to you, but i think it reminded me of ago an alda and jimmy smith's on west wing when offered the secretary of state job to
the guy he beat. it's history imitating art. and that moment made me cry. >> rose: team reefls. >> it does this stuff. he said and that would be you. when he said who is your first choice, and jimmy smits said that would be you. break my heart. i love that stuff. >> rose: what is it about you that loved it so much. >> did i ever tell you the story about fin o'neill and ronald reagan. reagan has been shot. he's lost half his blood supply. and the bullet was actually much closer to the heart if you read the clinical reports. and nancy reagan was very concerned, of course. she is a good friend of mine and yours too probably and she is a wonderful person. she was worried about her husband surviving and wanted to keep him alone. after a few days the doctors did a fantastic job and beginning to con val es and get better. and she said with jim baker it's time to let somebody in to see him. to let the country know he is still there. so they followed protocol. they wanted to do something miraculous, why don't we bring in the leader of the opposition to be the first guy to see him, the speaker of the house, tip o'neill. so i didn't know this story,
because nobody-- . >> rose: during the day. >> nobody knew about this. the rest of the story. so back-- head of congressional relations was stationed in the other corner of the room when tip comes in, a big guy. >> rose: you worked for tip. >> which was his top guy. he walked in the room and went over to reagan. nobody else knows about this. and i never said this on national television, actually this is four. and he felt down next to reagan, this is the leader of the opposition, held both his hands and together they recited the 23rd psalm together, these two old irish guys. >> rose: that will make tears come to your eyes. >> then he kissed him on his forehead after he was done prying together. you need your rest. nobody saw this. it's chilling, nobody saw this, it was never reported, tip never came back. i don't think he told his family. reagan never told this, i got this in a letter from max. originally tipped off by david broader about this story. it is a wonder of american politics at its best, to me. >> rose: did you, but you knew tip so well. did you talk to tip about it
later. >> i never knew about t he never told us about it i did speak, we would have late afternoon conversations with he would sit there for hours and tell me about curley, james michael curlly and amazing stories about the old days. we say things to me like curley was crooked by the standards of those days. and i would say and i there is a great, the purple shamrock, the old mayor of boston went to the can and i said personally corrupt, he said personally corrupt. i mean we had great conversations. i learned a lot from him sitting in the back room. >> rose: you were fascinated by three people. winston churchill,. >> yeah. >> rose: john kennedy and who is the third. >> earnest hemmingway. because all the av a tars, they lead you to what you want to be. and they all take new your life if you think about who made paris great for you, charlie. come orntion i don't care what you say, it was hemingway, the '20s. it was the period, callahan, we all got into that stuff. you know, george plumpton, we all got caught up in that. and then africa, when did
it -- when hemingway said it was cool and bull fighting. >> rose: and cuba. >> cuba, bull fighting and marlin fishing and who made politics just glamorous, before then it was three piece suits and boring guys and stuffed shirts. >> rose: well, no, that's not true. >> it was taft-- . >> rose: before that there was teddy roosevelt. >> charlie, that is before television. didn't count. just kidding, before that there was one exciting guy, the roosevelts, of course. and churchill of course because here is this guy way lift who had really nothing going for him except in may of 1940, when they hadn't even saved the troops at done circumstance, even before dunnkirk before they vac yated the expeditionary force when they were finished churchill said there is larger-- and of course they will fight no matter what happens and they stood up and applauded and that saved the honor of the west. that one move. >> rose: back to-to-jfk. what dow foe about his early youth. i mean he was the second
son. he was never intended to be the public son. >> no. he was a writer, from the time he was sick i think jackie had one thing really important about him that she said afterwards to teddy white. you got to remember he wasn't that glamorous good looking character that we all got to know, the tan and the lifestyle and everything. he was a really sick kid his whole life. he was really sick. he had scarlet fever. he thought he had leukemia, he had a stomach problem his whole life. a back problem that was congenital. he had serious problems, his whole life and they never really went away. those crutches were always in the oval office. and he was always in pain. and yet we never saw that because he kept that away from us. but as gene smith said to me one time the great thing about him and separated from all the rest of the kennedies was because he was sick so much, he read a lot. he was a real reader. i'm not going go so far as to say an intellectual but he read some of in his life, he had so many heroes like churchill. imagine knowing a kid who read "the new york times" every day in high school, imagine knowing a kid in high school, who read
churchill's history of the first world war before he got to high school. so he was this self-made guy. very much like if you reit gatsby he is writing lists like self-improvement lists like i'm going to come up with needed inventions. he was very much like that. >> rose: young john kennedy. >> and he made himself into what. >> into jack kennedy, a separate person from the democratic party from the liberal party from the johnson party from his dad. his dad was an anti-semite, bad guy in many ways. a loving faering but a bad guy in many ways all totally wrong about world war ii. thought it was a business you could negotiate with a guy like hitler. he never had a sense about the moral horror of hitler. where jack did. if you look about it from the time he was a kid he wrote about-- he understood, he couldn't make that defense of appeasement. you had to understand that there were reasons that in his case,. >> rose: let me go back, he created jfk. he created.
>> i think so. >> rose: first. and then he created jfk. you said he created two things. >> he created jack kennedy and then he created the guy who could be president. but i'm working on it. it's in progress. november. i'm working on it very hard. charlie, when you don't see me, and i'm not sleeping, i'm doinging this. >> rose: running around with the president. let me talk about washington today. give me a sense of boehner versus obama. >> i think boehner is approaching a kind of waterfall. in the next week or two they are going to be i think a government shutdown it will one of moss mano amano things, a hemmingway moment where he has to come up against a cool customer, president obama who does well in the clinch. you know in the movie the godfather when he lights the cigarette out in front of the hospital and you realize this guy was born for this. i don't want to go up against that guy. and i think bayne certificate a little more nervous. he's an average guy, in terms of temperment. he does get nervous, he gets choked up.
i don't know whether he is ready for this fight and i don't think he wants this fight and i think he's taking it on because the tea party people behind him want to cut government spending so much in the current fiscal year, right now, they don't want any more continuing resolutions that what is going to happen is there will be a moment in the next week or two when they will not reach agreement by the house lead by the republicans and harry reid on the senate senate. the government is going to stop. >> rose: what does that mean. >> things like social security checks don't go out. that matters. checks don't go out. people say i didn't get my check. it's not like you can't get into yosemite that night. that's important to the person waiting outside the station wagon but for most people it's that check that's not getting through and all of a suddenpeople say i like the federal government more than i thought i did. i sort of like that check. it is serious business. so if things stop performing, and i realize from last time there is a big difference between the legislative leader like tip o'neill, the country only wants one
president. and they don't like the other side grabbing. >> but they clearly are aware of the lessons of gingrich versus clinton. >> they eventually cut their deal. and i think with luck, what i think obama is up to, to answer a larger question, he came in with a pretty minimal effort to reduce government spending. his budget last week. what he is trying to do is uker the republicans into a process, back and forth, a ping-pong thing, back and force, back and forth over a couple of years where both parties begin to show their hand. and eventually you have a situation you had with tip o'neill and ronald reagan in 38ee where they went on another big story, tommy o'neill tells the story where his dad went to the white house one day at the end of 28ee when reagan lost that election, lost 26 sees and reagan said to tip let's go for a walk. and they went on a walk on the back lawn and came back with a social security deal. so i think it's going to take awhile to get there as obama said, jack lou, i worked with-- said we've
learned from history that the person who sticks their neck out on social security and medicare and offers to do something doesn't get it, they just get killed. nothing happens because the other side springs into action and says gocha. >> you think obama understands this. >> i think he knows this. therefore he is waiting for the republicans to show something. >> he is not speak together deficit commission report. >> exactly. you can say that is irresponsible or you can say he knows tactically are you not going get there, if that is where you want to get, until both parties inch forward. so these guys are like sumi wrestlers doing this. and one of these days they will get closer and engage and he is saying it will take that engagement of the two parties for it to work. if will not work if i try to do it alone because inevitably, and you know the white house press corps, the second he calls for a social security cut or higher retirement age that second they will say he hit the third rail. he is ignited. president taking fallout. the whole story for days ahead will be how the president made a mistake. >> so what does this is a about barack obama's
political skills. >> he's learning. i think he's learning. this isn't something you come to the office with. you have to talk to people like jack lou who have been through it in the '80s, in the '90s with clinton, and say how does this work. and you have to listen to people who tell you don't make a quick move. this isn't about initial success. it's about ultimate success. >> rose: how much do you think he is being counciled by bill clinton. you must have asked that questionness with i think he is counciled by his record. >> rose: no, no, no. >> i don't know the answer to that. >> rose: pick up the phone and say-- i don't know. president clinton, it's president obama calling. >> i know bill would like that call. >> rose: he would like to get it. >> who wouldn't. i don't hear anything like that. so i don't know if it is going on. >> rose: and then when he reads that, you know, the obama's real political model is ronald reagan. >> that stuck it to him and de that early in the campaign. he was a transform difficult president and i want to be a transform difficult president. he belittled. he made a mistake, he belittled 9 nixon presidency.
whatever you think of richard nixon he was not a transitional president. de a lot of things. he ended the dual school system in the south, as you know. he created the environmental protection agency. he ended the gold standard. he did a lot of things. wage price controls. de a lot of things that were positive. >> rose: i thought it was the supreme court that ended the dual system. >> he executed it. no, pat moynihan. told me it was next on who did it because he actually carried out the court instruction. >> rose: amazing pat moynihan, wasn't he. >> you know what he once said to me. i was on a plane with him. he was one of the-- he was an outer rim of the knights of the round table with kennedy, assistant secretary of labor. actually he did pennsylvania avenue. he carried out kennedy's plan to making washington beautiful like the champs-elysees. and pat once said to me, he was a wonderful man. so generous. >> rose: what de say. >> he said, we were talking about the kennedy assassination. he said i've never gotten over it and he looked at me and said you've never gotten over it.
>> that was-- i will never forget that. >> rose: this documentary, are you going to do more of these. >> i hope so we have done a couple of the rise of the right about the tea party. we will keep doing them. i think the commitment which which will say on the air they made a commitment to let me do two a year. i love doing them. they take a lot. i work with people like tim smith and kate hampton at peacock productions at nbc and we've turned out some good stuff. >> rose: great to have you here. >> thanks, it's great. thank you. >> rose: chris matthews, his documentary is 10:00 on msnbc on monday night. chris anderson is here, the curator of the ted conferences, ted's mission is ideas worth spreading. its speakers include former president, scientists, tech visionaries, philosophers and much, much more. here are some of them. >> now malaria is of course transmitted by mosquitoes.
i brought some here just so you could experience this. we'll let those roam around the-- auditorium a little bit. there. there is no reason only poor people should have the experience. (laughter) >> nigeria telecom market is the second fastest growing in the world after china. we are getting investments of about a billion dollars a year in telecom. and nobody knows except a few smart people. >> if you have ever seen a human brain it's obvious that the two hemispheres are completely separate from one another. and i have brought for you a real human brain. >> so this is a real human brain. this is the front of brain, the back of the brain with a spinal chord hanging down. and this is how it would be
positioned inside of my head. >> these are the great leap forward when china fell down it was-- china is covered and said never more stupid central planning but they went up here and india was trying to follow and they were catching up, indeed, and both countries had better but still a very low economy and we came to 1978 and moo tstung died and the if you guy turned up from the left. and he said doesn't matter if a cat is white are black as long as it catch mice. because catching mice, catching mice is what the two cats wanted to do. >> don't leave before you leave. stay in. keep your foot on the gas pedal until the very day you need to leave to take a break for a child. and then make your decision. don't make decisions too far in advance, particularly ones you're not even conscious you're making.
>> if you are's not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. if you are's not prepared to be wrong. and by the time they get to be adults most kids have lost that capacity. they have become frightened of being wrong. and we run our companies, we stigmatize mistakesment and we're now running national educations systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. and the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. >> nasa has this phrase that they like, failure is not an option. but failure has to be an option in art and in exploration. because it's a leap of faith. and no important endeavor that required innovation was done without risk. you have to be willing to take those risks. so that's a thought i would leave you with. is that in whatever you're doing, failure is an option. but fear is not. >> rose: in recent years ted has expanded in many ways,
all talks are now available on-line. many have been viewed over 300 million times. the ted exfranchise allows hundreds of independent events to be held around the world today. i'm very pleased to have chris anderson back at this table, welcome. tell me what is the best thing you have learned about your experience at ted? >> i think this taught me that if you start with curiosity, that takes you on an amazing journey. that almost all you need. you just need to be curious about the world. and even though ted is full of, you know, these very different voices that we have seen and some people might initially think how on earth can you have a conference that's on the one hand about science and technology and on the other hand about art and global issues. and the answer is everyone who comes, they're all different but they share that curious spark. >> rose: as you and i have often talked, the same thing about this show. >> exactly. your view is know this. >> rose: and they come because they want to be
enriched by-- new ideas. >> i think they are just initially come just to learn and just to, you know, it's a thrilling thing to hear a great architect explain their vision or see some scientist, you know, really show you why it is that they've been passionate about this funny little creature for 30 years. so it just starts there. but over several days when someone immerses themselve in the conference. they start to see connections between these different things and that's where this sense of possibility. >> rose: can you give an example of how that works? >> well, deborah gordon a few years ago gave a talk about aunts. she is obsessed with ants. >> rose: so is eo wilson. >> indeed. and he also has spoken. but she spoke about how this mystery about ant colonies and how even though ants are exactly the same, a colony with 30,000 ants behaves
completely differently from a colony with 5,000 ants. why? and she talked about how emergent behavior happens that from these same units behaving individually the same, the system itself changes dramatically. and then suddenly in her talk, she points out that this may help explain how brains work and how these funny little neurons, you know, manage to suddenly invent cells and create this sense of self that we all have. so from ant colonies to a brain. so designers are inspired by scientists. scientists are inspired by designers. and so it goes. >> rose: and you also learn new connections too. >> yes. i mean we spent most of our lives doing one thing and trying to do it well. that's what we've been taught to do. you know, you've got to be good at that one thing. and the piece that we've forgot tlen is that all of knowledge is connected. and that you don't, you don't really understand
until you can kind of emerge from your trench and see how what you do connects to what all these other people are doing. >> rose: why did you buy this in the first place? >> i fell in love with it i first went in '98. and i thought i would come home. i thought finally hi found a group of people without don't mind talking about crazy ideas. >> rose: you were at that time a successful entrepreneur. >> i was a magazine publisher and yeah, a media entrepreneur. >> and so i fell in love with it and i noticed just how much, you know, passion there was there by the end of four days you had this group of influential people, at the time it was just a single annual conference. 800 people were telling me things like this is the highlight of my year. and you know this is my brain this has kind of changed my life. >> rose: this is my brain spa. >> yeah. and i think that is unusual.
i don't often here that. and so it felt like in that room at the end of four days there was this extraordinary instration t felt special. i fell in love with it personally and as a media person it felt like when you see passion like that, it's a hint that there is potential. and so for the last, i put it into a nonprofit organization instead of for profit. and the journey over the last 13 years has been trying to figure out how to let that passion and inspiration and learning, i suppose. get out into the world. >> rose: and what has the presence on-line taught new. >> it's taught me that when you give something away, sometimes, it's the very smartest thing you can do. people pay 6,000 dollars to come to paris and when we first started giving the talks away free on the web, a few people thought we were crazy that we were giving away the crown jewels. but as theworld
interconnects, you know, those rules about giving away are kind of changing. it turns out that there is huge power to give something away because in an interconnected world it can then spread like wildfire across the web with. and so far from killing the demand for the conference it allly-- actually increased the demand for people to come and attend. and more to the point, it instead of the conference being 800 people once a year it's moved to being about 750,000 people every day now watch. >> rose: 750,000 people every day come to your web site to watch the ted talk. >> that's right. >> rose: are you not talking about this before. they are all 18 minutes. >> or less. >> rose: or less. did you come to that conclusion or was that part of the thing that you saw when you got there. >> yes, by the time i got to ted all the talks were shot. typically speaker was actually told a quarter of an hour.
>> rose: 15 minutes. >> and i kind of learned in my first year that 15 minutes was often interpreted as 20 or 25. so the 18 initially came in as just attempting to be more precise. 18 at most 19. but it is turned out that that time length is you know while being long enough to say something substantive, it is short enough to hold people's attention even on the internet which is a surprise so it's kind of coffee length break time. and so these long videos, somewhat to our surprise started spreading virally on the web. >> rose: what have you learned about the ability to communicate. >> great question. one we ask ourselves. i feel like i'm still early on that journey. because i think what is happening at ted really prompted by the fact that these talks now can scale globally, people are thinking again about the
power of human to human communication so when human rights, someone else reads it, that's powerful. but when someone looks someone else in the eye as a human or at an odd consequence goes in and is connecting, there are thousands of, you know, subconscious things going on that we don't fully understand. and when someone gets it right, they are sending fireworks, exploding the brains of every one watching in that audience. and it's an awesome thing to behold. i think we are somehow tapping back into this primal thing that humans did. they gathered around a camp fire. they told stories to each other. and when you think about that setting, that was a very theatrical setting, a very dramatic setting. it wasn't, you know, a board man in a suit behind a lech turn mumbling for 45 minutes which is kind of what a lot of the spoke earn-- spoken word became. i think we are talking about
into that ancient camp fire experience. and in many ways what we see are one of our current missions is to try to figure out what the reinvention of the spoken word looks like. >> rose: and what do the best have, though. >> they have figured out the way to connect with other people and to make them want to care. so it's partly clarity. a lot of people are brilliant but don't have the language and they try and explain. they got lost in jargon. they don't put themselves in the other person's shoes so there is a certain empathy that these people have that they can put themselves into the position of someone who doesn't know all their background and context. it is often about not strutting your ego too much. people who want to just pump themselves up, often switch up an audience. people who are willing to tell a personal story, make themselves almost feel vulnerable. and look audience members in
the eye and share their passion. something very magical is happening at that point. and i can't say that i fully understand it but i know what it feels like. >> rose: you know it when you see it. >> chills down your spine. >> rose: it's a magical thing to see somebody walking and be able to through telling stories, through the magic of their own communication, have them almost in breathing in rhythm. >> yes. >> with the speaker. >> and actually what is amazing is that is actually what is happening. all this recent research about nearons and you know with you now know that when one human being does something or exhibits an emotion, the other people watching that person, the same nearons are firing in that brain that are causing that emotion in the speaker. so that they nullly-- actually are that pers for a moment.
it's very much, you could make the case that it is very much like the ant cole onee that we are behaving as a superorganism. it's very powerful when that happens. >> so when you think about this and going forward, five years, ten years, where does it go. what does it do? how will its direction change? >> well, the thrilling thing about ted in the last year and a half or so is how it's taken on a life of its own. we started about 18 months ago allowing people to organize their own ted-like events using the brand ted x, the x stands for self-organized. and to our astonishment instead of a few dozen of these happening, there have been more than a thousand of them. and you know, going forward, four or five every day now somewhere in the world. someone is putting on-- . >> rose: four or five every day. >> yeah. >> rose: so what do you have to do in order to be able to
say this is ted x. >> you apply for a licence. you have to sign up to agree to a simple set of rules which is, you know, stick to our format, invite speakers to prepare a talk less than 18 minutes, don't be political, religious, commercial, you can't make money for it. do it for passion. a few-- . >> rose: don't be political, religious or commercial. >> yeah. we don't want the agenda hijacked because this is about, you know, discovery. it's about curiosity, about the quest of truth, about sharing ideas. from that start point, amazing events are being held. people are putting months of work into these. they are booking theatres, putting full on audio productions, 300 --00, often a thousand people. there is one i read about in a muslim village in india this month where 5,000 people turned up. and -- >> and dot best of these make their way to your web site. >> correct.
so it's turned into this extraordinary content sourcing thing from around the world where there are literally thousands of talks being orded. we're starting to put the best of them up on our site and many of them are far better than our own ted talks. it's really amazing seeing that happen. so it's this, that there, the world has started it is almost like a global a laboratory for how to share ideas, how to spread ideas. we're aided now by thousands of people around the world doing this all off their own bat and it is breathtaking and thrilling to see and frankly t makes you actually optimistic about the world's future a bit. because-- you know, we all have this fear that the world is dumbing down, right. that's what a lot of the sort of drumbeat is that oh, you know, the internet is distracting us the whole time. and no one has an attention span any more. and there is all this clutter. and this there are some reasons to be concerned about these things.
but at the same times there's this other story, you know, thousands of people around the world. willing to go to huge lengths to meet with weech other, to think, to learn, to dream. i find that really exciting. >> tell me the story of hands rossling. >> yes, so he is a brilliant professor of public health, swedish professor of public health who has found a unique way to communicate, you know what most people would think of as-- data into incredibly compelling animated graphs that within a few seconds really reshape your mental picture of the world. and he had been doing this, you know, for years and getting enthusiastic responses from audiences. but no one had heard of him. and we found him one year, put him on the ted stage. he gave a breathtakingly
good talk. and when it went on the web within you know, a few months it had been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and it's now been seen by 5 million people. and he, i think he would tell you it kind of changed his life. he walks into a room now and getting a standing o before he's even put anything on the table. and it's, that to me is thrilling that there is a prospect in this age of creating a different kind of celebrity. you know, something who's mantra is not roten music or facial or at this timeel at that timeel, something solid. >> communication an idea -- >> and his talk helps shape bill gates, for example, bill gates was quoted in "the wall street journal" of saying athat watching that talk had changed his mind about how the developing world should be thought of. >> rose: thank you for coming. great to see you. >> great to see you, charlie. >> rose: chris anderson, the ted conference, go on-line
and take a look. you will find words and ideas that will changes you. back in a moment. stay with us. >> james can lan is a novelist, is a journalist and a biographer. his most well-known works include pearl's progress and two guys from bar rona, he could authored books with john mcenroe and jerry lewis. his latest book frank the voice is a biography of the legendary frank sinatra. doris concerns goodwyn writes this is biography at its very best. the story of a fascinating character brought to life as never before through superb writing, impeccable research and pen traingt ing sight. james kaplan joins me now from new york while i am here in washington to talk about this remarkable voice. the subfight elf the book is, in fact, the voice. why sinatra for you, james? >> well, charlie, about, awhile ago i did a new yorker profile on jerry lewis which lead to my doing
a book with jerry lewis and as i was finishing up the book -- 004 i think it was, jerry invited me out to los angeles where he is doing the labor day tell thon that year. and one night while he was out there he went out to dinner, not with jerry but just with a bunch of musicians who were working on the show. and we went to an italian restaurant in santa monica. and we had a lot to eat. we had a lot to drink. we had a beautiful time-- wonderful time. nd an hour or two into the dinner i lost track of time. it turned out that every one these musicians had worked with frank sinatra. and musicians being the plain spoken people that they are, i sort of inwardly rubbed my hands and got ready for the gossip to begin about the women and the mob and the fistfights. but instead, every one of these guys spoke in tones of awe about what a musical genius sinatra was. and i was very moved by that. and it was coming time for
me to do my next book. i was looking for a big subject, a worthy subject, a good subject. and i thought well, sinatra may be the most chronicled human being in history or close to it. but what about trying to do a biography of sinatra that got the sennuous on to the page. what about trying to do a biography of sinatra that was way book of empathy. >> two things to be said about that, both from the book. number one, is that, i mean he believed that his voice and his work was the only thing that really mattered, correct. >> yes. it trumped everything else. it superseded all relationships. lovers, wives, friends. we're all secondary to the career and to the forwarding of his voice. >> but he was not someone who read music. >> he didn't read a note of music. that was another thing that amazed me about these musicians. they could all read a score from top to bottom. sinatra couldn't read a note
it wasn't that. he said in later years he was 9 years old and he heard the music, he knew from the age of 9 or there that he was frank sinatra, that he had something that nobody else had. and every passing year made that clearer to him. but one of the big surprises of this book, the research that i did for this book which was, i did three years of research on this book before i had the courage to put pen to paper, just because there is so much written about sinatra and i had so many people to interview, one of the big surprises was how very, very hard he worked on developing his voice. >> rose: how did he do it? >> it was not, it was not a totally natural thing. he had that gift that you have to be born with for being able to sing on key. and he had something. he heard that music of the spheres. but he worked incredibly hard on breath control. tommy dorsey, his second boss taught him a good deal about breath control. he diction was very important to him.
especially coming as de from hobokon, new jersey and having, it's hilarious to listen to some of the early outtakes. you can hear the glorious diction of the song and then when he stops singeing the hobokon kicks right it and it frank talking. so diction was very important. but perhaps most important of all to him was the lyric. he said in later years that he read the lyric to a song before he ever sang a note of the song. he read it like a poem. he learned to live inside that lyric. and so as a result he inhabited the lyric to the songs as really very few other singers do or did. >> sinatra had this remarkable relationship to his audience as well, didn't he? >> we had, he had, he recognized he was a very self-knowing man. he was a tortured man in many ways, deeply uncomfortable man. he was scarred at birth. he weighed 13.5 pounds. he was yanked out with
forceps which deeply scarred the left side of his face. he was never really comfortable in his own skin. he felt throughout his life that he was physically unattractive. but he knew that he had that thing. he knew that he had that-- he knew that he was able to sing. his relationship with his audience, he knew early on that he, he had a certain vulnerability to his soul. and he found early on that when he telegraphed, when he communicated that vulnerability to audiences that audiences, particularly women and girls responded in a big, big way. >> the women in his life, first his mother dolly. >> yes. his mother dolly was a force of nature. and in a lot of ways i think sinatra became dolly sinatra. she was hugely intelligent woman. she spoke every dialect of italian. back in blue collar new jersey in the 1920s and '30s she became a political force
in the democratic party. she went around to all the households. she spoke to families. she was also speaking of going around to all the households. she made her living as a midwife and abortionist. she had a fiery temperment, a volcanic temper. sinatra told shirley mclean later on that he never knew whether his mother was going to hug him or hit him. it, he had much of the same sensibility as dolly sin at ra. he had a sense of humor that could be brutal at times. but he had a fiercely sharp intelligence. a deep abiding impatience lasted his whole life and again a volcanic temper. >> rose: i will talk about that in a moment. the other woman in his life that frequently comes up is ava gardner from my home state of north carolina. some say the post beautiful woman of her time. >> yes. >> rose: but what was the relationship, what was the attraction for both of them and what was the relationship. and why did it end? >> well, it ended i said if the book that they were like
an unstable chemical compound. two elements that could never really bond. they were really ultimately too similar to each other. too impatient. too volcanic. she had the same kind-of-temper that sinatra had. she loved as he did, she loved sex. she loves drinking. she hated sleeping. she could stay up all night. she could drink any man under the table except possibly sinatra. they had, i think it was the thunderbolts for both of them when they met. and they had a passionate sexual relationship. a stormy personal relationship that because they were so similar and so impatient often erupt mood furniture smashing fights. then there was fantastic makeup between them. and then the fights began again this constant cycle that wore itself out after a while. >> was she a woman that he could ever dominate or own. >> he could never dominate her and that ultimately was what broke them up. >> his relationship with
organized crime. >> we should never forget that sinatra was an italian american growing up in a time when italian americans were extremely low on the social scale. just a skip and a jump above african-americans on the social scale. italian americans in the shameful, in the shameful parlance of the '30s and '40s were italian americans were not officially considered white. so sinatra always had that chip on his shoulder. the mob, many of whom the. ance of whom were italian american seemed to him like many of strength, of power, even of honor. and he idollized them the way a small boy idolizes cowboys it was an unfortunate relationship he had to them. he loved these guys. they loved him. they thought he was great too. and he stuck to them like glue for the rest of his life. >> in the end his contribution, his impact, his -- on popular music was
what? >> his impact on popular music was incalculable. this is the voice for the ages. it is a voice that endures. it was a 60 year career from the mid 1930s to the mid 1990s. it was a career that is, it's insparrably entwined with the great american popular song as crafted by geniuses like cole porter, irving berlin, before elvis. this is music that holds up as sinatra's voice holds up forever. >> the book is called frank the voice. james kaplan. thank you so much. >> great pleasure, charlie. thank you .